Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism

By Andrei S. Markovits; Steven L. Hellerman | Go to book overview

Appendix A
A Statistical Abstract on Recreational, Scholastic,
and Collegiate Soccer in the United States

A MORE detailed breakdown of the social composition of the 18,226,000 so-called total participants impressively highlights soccer's growth between 1987and 1997, while also providing insight into the demographic character of those who participate.

Participation in soccer by income breaks down (for 1997) in the following manner: 4,639,000 (25.5 percent) came from families that earned less than $25,000; 5,791,000 (31.8 percent) were in the $25,000–$49,000 range; 3,926,000 (21.5 percent) had family income between $50,000 and $74,999; and 3,870,000 or 21.2 percent comprised those who earned $75,000 or more per year. That soccer had become a geographically evenly distributed activity in the United States is confirmed by the following data in terms of regional participation: 4,256,000 (23.4 percent) in the Northeast; 4,632,000 (25.4 percent) in what the survey terms North Central (presumably similar to, if not identical with, what is usually called the Midwest in the American vernacular); the South tallied 4,466,000 (24.5 percent) and the West 4,872,000 (26.7 percent).

The top ten soccer states in 1997were California with 2,154,000 registered participants, followed by New York (1,354,000), Texas (1,277,000), Ohio (1,116,000), Pennsylvania (1,070,000), Michigan (781,000), New Jersey (643,000), Florida (613,000), Minnesota (561,000), and North Carolina (467,000). It is interesting, however, to see which states emerged on top when the number of soccer players was computed as a percentage of that state's overall population, thus offering perhaps a more accurate measure of soccer's presence than provided by absolute numbers. Utah led the nation with the highest rate of soccer participation, as 17.3 percent of the state's residents age six and over played the game at least once that year. In order, it was followed by Kansas (14.1 percent), Iowa (12.6 percent), Missouri (11.8 percent), and Minnesota (10.8 percent). The Midwest also featured the cities in which soccer was played at the greatest rate in 1997: Kansas City (20.3 percent), Cincinnati (14.6 percent), Minneapolis/St. Paul (12.5 percent), and St. Louis (10.1 percent)—the only major American city to have had any kind of soccer tradition prior to the soccer boom of the 1980s and 1990s.

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